Summary: Philippians - Manual of Joy Treasuring Christ
Philippians - Manual of Joy
As we work through this letter, we are seeing that Paul sees all of life consumed and centered around Christ and the gospel. All of life is centered on, sustained by, and empowered by his relationship with Christ. He is driven by a passion to know Christ and to make Christ known. Today we will see that Paul is full of joy in spite of his circumstances because he treasures Christ above all else and from this reservoir of joy flows love, selfless living for the good of others.
Thesis: Treasuring Christ is what gives Paul joy and life to serve others selflessly.
1. Christ Can Give Joy us in Spite of our Circumstances (vs. 18b)
I have been challenged by the fact that Paul is so full of joy in spite of his circumstances. He is joyful in spite of prison. He is also joyful in spite of the actions of others. When others preached Christ as a way to create problems for Paul, his response is, ‘in this I rejoice because Christ is preached.’ Paul is also joyful while facing death. He is in prison, awaiting trial not knowing if he will live or die but he is joyful. In scripture, we find that God himself is our joy, it cannot be taken or stolen from you by anyone and the joy we experience here is just a foretaste of heaven.
2. Joy comes from Treasuring Christ (vs. 19-21)
Treasuring Christ is valuing Christ above all else
Paul’s expectation is that Christ will be honored because to live is Christ and to die is gain. He is making two claims here. First, he is claiming that he expects that he will honor or glorify Christ and second, to live is Christ and to die is gain. The two claims are linked by the word, for. I want us to look at the second claim first because it is the reason or the foundation for his claim that he will honor Christ. To live is Christ and to die is gain means if he lives he has Christ and if he dies it is far better because to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ. He is addressing the fears of the Philippians and is saying death is not a thing to fear because being in the presence of Christ is far better. Treasuring Christ is valuing Christ above all else. Death is gain because Paul will be in the presence of Christ and he longs for that day because he treasures Christ. He had no fear of death because death was gain. Paul wanted to depart to be with Christ because he knew that in his presence there is be joy evermore.
Treasuring Christ Glorifies Christ
Paul says ‘it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death for to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ Paul has confidence that he will not cower or be intimidated, but will experience the Spirits empowerment to honor Christ by boldly and confidently proclaiming Christ in difficult circumstances because, to live is Christ and to die is gain. He had no fear of death because the presence of Christ was so sweet to him. Treasuring Christ like that honors or glorifies Christ. Are you so secure in God and his truth that he is better than life and so you are not afraid of anything so that in you will honor Christ in life and death?
Treasuring Christ above all else is the key to joy. Joy in God comes not merely from intellectual assent to correct doctrine. Joy in God comes when we treasure Christ because our hearts are drawn to him in relationship, in intimacy and in friendship. It is like a marriage vow. Marriage is a legal act and is necessary, and lays the foundation for relationship. But the legal certificate is not what makes marriage joyful and pleasurable. What makes the marriage relationship joyful is the experience of intimacy with your spouse. Similarly, what makes our relationship with God joyful is the experience of intimacy with him. That is why scripture tells us that we are the bride of Christ. If we truly see Christ as our treasure, we will truly desire and take pleasure in our relationship with him. We must not only know about Christ but we must also want the sweet relationship of knowing Christ. Any marriage, which never goes beyond a mere legal declaration, is no marriage at all. The reason why Paul had joy in spite of his circumstances was his relationship with Christ. If you have that kind of joy, no one can take it away from you because God himself is your joy. Paul knew from personal experience, ‘You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joys; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ Or because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.